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Google Privacy Your Rights Online

Google Broke the Law, Say South Korean Police 203

Posted by timothy
from the tough-standards dept.
bonch writes "South Korean police say Google was in violation of Internet privacy laws when its Street View service archived private information in more than 30 countries, including email and text messages. The country's Cyber Terror Response Center broke the encryption on hard drives raided from Google last August and confirmed that private information had been gathered, violating South Korea's telecommunications laws. Police are seeking the original author of the program, though they say it is likely to be a US citizen. Google said it stopped collecting the information as soon as it realized what was happening. 40 states in the US are demanding access to the information gathered by the mapping service in order to determine what was archived, which Google refused to hand over. 'We have been cooperating with the Korean Communications Commission and the police, and will continue to do so,' said a Google Korea spokesperson."
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Google Broke the Law, Say South Korean Police

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  • by rolfwind (528248) on Saturday January 08, 2011 @05:07AM (#34802718)

    This isn't a defense of Google. It just seems that corporations are never called to task for deplorable behavior unless they forgot to grease the right wheels.

    • Although Google is large, and does stand to get some bad publicity from this whole situation, it's not fair to lump them in with the same group of corporations responsible for bribing congressmen over automative safety, health problems related to tobacco, or nuclear power plant contamination.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lexidation (1825996)
        Where exactly does the dividing line between "spends millions on lobbying and campaign contributions" and "bribes politicians outright" get drawn? I don't mean this as a rhetorical question. It seems to me there's something broken in the system, something which will never get fixed because it underwrites the ambitions of the people in power.
        • by pspahn (1175617)

          who cares about the line, erase the line [blogspot.com].

          • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday January 08, 2011 @06:20AM (#34802992) Journal

            The downfall of the Athenian Empire alone proves that pure democracy (as you propose in your letter) is a bad idea.

            Pure democracy can also be called "tyranny of the majority" as the minority voice is drowned-out. Or worse: Crushed. Just ask the Americans that were imprisoned during World War 2, simply because the majority decided they did not like the minority who looked different (i.e. asian). The purpose of a Republic is to have a Supreme Law that protects the minority from such abuses, and which no one, ideally, can remove by a simple 51% vote. The Law of Individual Rights reigns supreme even above the government or its representatives, and can not be revoked.

            It isn't a perfect system, but it's certainly much better than a Democracy. Socrates was killed with a simply 51% vote. No trial; no lawyers; nothing to protect his right to speak his mind. The Demos killed him because they didn't like him. That's what a democracy gives you.

            • by Lazareth (1756336)

              Socrates is a really bad example in this case. Yes, there was a vote. There was also a trial and he did speak his mind. I'm not going to delve into the details of the whole trial and how Socrates acted, but while we, with todays values, may think he was unfairly handled, he very much caused his death sentence himself.

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              The downfall of the Athenian Empire alone proves that pure democracy (as you propose in your letter) is a bad idea.

              Uh, no. Athens was a republic or oligarchy depending on who you talked to, NOT a pure democracy. In order to have a vote you had to be a white male landowner. Giving the vote to the ostensibly most enlightenedly self-interested people didn't work there any more than it's working now (where only the corporations truly have a vote, especially Big Media, who decides which candidates the public will take seriously.)

            • World War 2, simply because the majority decided they did not like the minority who looked different (i.e. asian).

              Dude, Krauts hate it when you call them Asians.

            • The Demos killed him because they didn't like him

              To be fair, Socrates spent most of his life drunk, having intercrotial "sex" with young boys, and publically humiliating anyone that could overlook his grotesque features. Plato was the philosophical and literary genius, while by all reports, Socrates was an unmittigated asshole.

          • by Jophish (1489121)
            I have been considering this problem for some time now, if only for British politics. One slight problem is that people are dumb. Senators and MPs act not only as a geographical proxy, but as a mediator for stupidity. Take for example the MMR vaccine scare. After this event, the majority of the public were outright scared of this vaccine. It was the duty of the politicians to educate themselves on this issue, and think about things rationally. In addition, educating oneself on a matter takes time. Most peop
            • >>>"Voting Exam"

              We had these in the US (mostly in the Eastern member states). They lasted about fifty years until the Supreme Court declared them illegal and nulled them.

        • "Corporations shall not donate money to candidates," seems like a simple enough law. And already-existing laws only allow $2000 per person to be donated, in order to avoid undue influence by any one man. So I don't know why this hasn't been fixed, unless it's because the politicians like to keep the current corrupt system.

          They should also revoke those laws that forbid any other party from being on the ballot except Republican and Democrat. Now that we have electronic ballots, there's no reason why we can

          • They should also revoke those laws that forbid any other party from being on the ballot except Republican and Democrat. Now that we have electronic ballots, there's no reason why we can't list 5-to-10 parties on each one, and let the people decide.

            Where do we have laws like this?

            I've lived in nine different states, and none of them restricted the ballots to Republican and Democrat.

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              They don't explicitly restrict the ballots to R and D, but most states have laws making it very difficult for third party politicians to get on the ballot. For instance, they will require an obscene number of signatures for parties that did not get a certain percentage of the vote in the previous election. In Pennsylvania, the courts routinely kick third parties off the ballot for "fraudulent signatures." A few years back Nader got kicked off the ballot and *fined* for a few dozen fraudulent signatures..

            • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday January 08, 2011 @07:56AM (#34803350) Journal

              >>>ballots to Republican and Democrat.

              In my state if you are a third party, like Libertarian or Communist or Constitutionalist or Green, you must either win 10% of the previous vote or collect signatures from 5% of the population. Since the standard is set so high, the ballot is effectively banned to anybody but the R and D parties. It's a way for them to maintain their control.

              Ironically if the R or D parties don't meet these standards (don't get 10% of the vote, or 5% of signatures), it doesn't matter. They are automatically added.

              • In my state if you are a third party, like Libertarian or Communist or Constitutionalist or Green, you must either win 10% of the previous vote or collect signatures from 5% of the population.

                Which state is that? I'd like to know so I can avoid ever moving there.

                • by cbreak (1575875)
                  Sounds like Banana Republicistan
                  • >>>Banana Republicistan

                    Try Socializing..... uh... I mean that is..... what we have to do is..... redistribute the wealth in Democrat-dominated Maryland. (Approximately 70% of the seats are held by the D's.) Maryland is a pretty nice state, so long as you avoid slum areas.

        • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday January 08, 2011 @07:03AM (#34803150) Journal

          IMHO this all boils down to various Governments wanting to maintain their MONOPOLY on the right to spy. Take the example of Britain where Google got in trouble because their CameraCar caught somebody's wash hanging outside. First off Google did nothing wrong - if you have your undies in view of the front street, then you're just plain stupid. Second you have no right to forbid Google or Me or anybody else from photographing it.

          But the UK government decided otherwise, ordered google to erase the undies image, and fined them. Meanwhile that same UK government has cameras installed on every fucking street that are capturing everything from Undies hanging in front yards to... well, fucking.

          But that's okay. It's okay for the Government to maintain its Monopoly to spy on us.
          Google and other private photographers get slapped down; but the government invades our privacy every day.

          • by iserlohn (49556)

            The lady that sued Google was in Japan, it was probably because the UK press reported on that you remembered it wrongly.

            The whole thing with streetview privacy violation thing is media hype. If you're doing things which can be seen in public, you have a very slight chance that somebody will be capturing it on camera. This something everybody have to accept when being in public view. There's a reason why people don't have sex in their front lawns. If you're transmitting data in the clear on unlicensed freque

        • by Tom (822)

          Where exactly does the dividing line between "spends millions on lobbying and campaign contributions" and "bribes politicians outright" get drawn?

          Which line?

          Campaign contributions by corporations are legalized bribing, nothing else. It is a clear violation of the basic principles of democracy that entities that have no votes can leverage influence on the political process.

    • by Tom (822)

      Every now and then, they are brought to justice even though they did.

      It's not that it used to be any better. Power, influence and money have always managed to put themselves above the law, I doubt you'll find a period in human history where this wasn't so, or where common folks didn't dream of better times when it would not.

    • by nospam007 (722110)

      Every smartphone with a WIFI finder is guilty of the same crime.

      • by GooberToo (74388)

        Every smartphone with a WIFI finder is guilty of the same crime.

        Or every Android device so long as you have WIFI and wireless location detected enabled. Every Android device is potentially a WIFI finder. Furthermore, some Android applications actively and periodically turn your WIFI on/off so as to collect and transmit this information to third parties. Shop Savvy is one such application. The Locale application doesn't turn WIFI on/off of its own, but it also reports applications, application activity, WIFI proximity, and geographic information back to third parties.

  • by Compaqt (1758360) on Saturday January 08, 2011 @05:17AM (#34802760) Homepage

    that all Giggle was doing was recording aspects of the electromagnetic spectrum that was hitting their equipment:

    What's the limit to that?

    Is it also OK to record faint sound waves emitted from a given StreetView address?

    Is it also OK to record GSM cell phone transmissions (recently shown vulnerable to cracking)?

    Is it also OK to set up a listening device to log the electromagnetic signature emitted by monitors and keyboards, and then associate that with a given StreetView address in your database?

    Would it also be OK to use a high-power lens to record photons leaking beyond a window that you thought you had pulled the curtain on?

    Would it also be OK to record infrared heat signatures of building occupants walking around or doing whatever?

    And if a "normal" person (not a corporation with cute logo) did all this, wouldn't he be arrested for stalking?

    • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday January 08, 2011 @06:34AM (#34803042) Journal

      A reasonable limit might be to disallow recording of any sound (or sight) that is not detectable by human ears/eyes.

      So if the sound is below, say, 10 dB then it would be forbidden by private persons/companies to record it. Or if the EM captured is below 50 lux(?) that too would be forbidden to record. That would stop them from using super-sensitive equipment to hear conversations in the kitchen, or take a peak into darkened bedrooms.

      • by mangu (126918)

        A reasonable limit might be to disallow recording of any sound (or sight) that is not detectable by human ears/eyes.

        So, telephoto lenses should be illegal? Directional microphones? How would you record a speech in a public place?

        I recommend you watch a classic film from the 1960s, "Blowup" by Michelangelo Antonioni where a photographer unknowingly takes a picture of a murder in a public park. Even simple equipment may capture sounds and sights that humans wouldn't detect.

        The rule should be expect no privacy in public places. And in private places be discreet. If the neighbors can hear your wife screaming while you have s

    • that all Giggle was doing was recording aspects of the electromagnetic spectrum that was hitting their equipment:

      What's the limit to that?

      The limit is the expectation of privacy. I do not expect my 200ft range non encrypted WiFi to be private. I do not expect the SSID & MAC broadcasts of my router to be private. Turn on your wifi, view available networks. See any that arn't yours? Guess what? You just did EXACTLY what Google has done -- except that Google logged the WiFi data from all over the world. I don't expect sound, light and/or RF waves that can be clearly discerned from more than 200ft away from my house to be private -- T

    • by rrossman2 (844318)

      ... I'm just wondering wtf Giggle is

    • ...through my brain? I use to think about this type of argument when people were "stealing" DirectTV. All the signals companies are broadcasting onto my property and waves going through my body doing who knows what. Radio, TV, cell phones companies, satellite companies, etc. All sending signals to me with out my permission. Can I "opt out"?
      If you are going to blast the signal to me I have every right to listen/decode/see what you are bombarding my property with 24/7.

      If you don't want people to li
  • Encryption broken? (Score:3, Informative)

    by hcs_$reboot (1536101) on Saturday January 08, 2011 @05:23AM (#34802772)

    “We succeeded in breaking the encryption behind the hard drives, and confirmed that it contained personal e-mails and text messages of people using the Wi-Fi networks,” said a [Korean] police official.

    I was however assuming
    1. that in such case Google would have been legally forced to provide the encryption key,
    2. and anyway, that a HD encrypted by Google wouldn't be so (apparently) easy to break.

    • by _merlin (160982)

      and anyway, that a HD encrypted by Google wouldn't be so (apparently) easy to break.

      They probably doubled the security by using ROT26!

    • The only lesson to learn from that is don't assume something like TrueCrypt is enough to protect you from the government. Of course that assumes Google was using serious encryption.
    • by slaad (589282)

      2. and anyway, that a HD encrypted by Google wouldn't be so (apparently) easy to break.

      That was my first thought as well. Given how much most people know about encryption though, I'd be willing to bet that it wasn't even encrypted. There was probably some aspect of the data that was encoded in some way and the official(s) who wrote and/or gave the statement just said encryption.

  • by c0lo (1497653) on Saturday January 08, 2011 @05:35AM (#34802820)
    ... letting aside the "breaking the encryption behind the hard-drives" containing "sensitive private information from unencrypted wireless networks during the filming process."... what the hell is with:

    “We are looking to penalize whoever ordered and developed the program, but are unsure as of yet who that might be,” said a police official.

    1. first whoever ordered and whoever developed are highly probable two different persons.Did both of them broke the SK law?
    2. why they go after the "whoever ordered and developed" and not after "whoever used the tools"? Is it in SK customary to go after the person that manufactured the knife used in a stabbing?
    3. the way I know, Google used some open-source components in putting the "tool" together. Is the original author of these components equally guilty?

    • It's still under investigation, ultimately the case rests on information such as whether this data collection was his work (intended or otherwise) or he was ordered to include this 'feature'. Followed by determining why it's there, eg. was it his own work or was it because of an order from above, etc. Juristiction is being mentioned because SK police obviously don't have the right to interview a US citizen without the cooperation of the US government, but beyond that the story so far is pretty stock standar
      • by c0lo (1497653)

        It's still under investigation, ultimately the case rests on information...

        I wouldn't raise the question if the wording would allow me. Let me quote again the TFA, with a bit of emphasis.

        “We are looking to penalize whoever ordered and developed the program, ...” said a police official.

        Hmmmm... the police... to penalize [princeton.edu] more than 1 person... So, what's going on with the police in SK: investigates, judges and inflicts penalties all together?

    • by Tom (822)

      1. first whoever ordered and whoever developed are highly probable two different persons.Did both of them broke the SK law?

      The "and" inbetween does indicate that, yes.

      2. why they go after the "whoever ordered and developed" and not after "whoever used the tools"? Is it in SK customary to go after the person that manufactured the knife used in a stabbing?

      Because that would mean going after the minimum-wage drones who rode in the streetview cars. That's not the people you want to punish for this.

      3. the way I know, Google used some open-source components in putting the "tool" together. Is the original author of these components equally guilty?

      Non sequitor. Nowhere does it say anything like that, or that they'd go after the manufacturers of the car, or the antennas, cameras, whatever.

      Your trying to throw up strawman here to cloud the fact that as far as government reactions go, this one is actually a pretty good one.

      • by c0lo (1497653)
        My dear latin speaking friend: if the law was broken by Google, you go after Google as a company.
        Not after individuals that got nothing to gain from the actions: I don't see how the developer (that made a honest mistake to capture more than necessary) and the manager (that didn't take enough care to double check the tools) can be more responsible than the "minimum-wage drones": I argue that none of them had something to gain from the excessive WiFi traffic collection (do you know otherwise?)

        If you go after

        • by Tom (822)

          My dear latin speaking friend: if the law was broken by Google, you go after Google as a company.

          Companies can not shield individuals from all responsibility, and that is a good thing. A crime is still a crime even if committed it wearing your business suit and a tie. Going after the company is certainly well and good, but we all know they would pay any reasonable fee out of the cookie jar.

          If you go after individuals in this case, why not go after all the individuals that were part of the actions violating the laws? (since when not knowing that you break the law is a defence?)

          Sure, but if you have to decide on some place to start, I think they could've chosen worse.

  • by Graftweed (742763) on Saturday January 08, 2011 @05:49AM (#34802872)

    "We succeeded in breaking the encryption behind the hard drives"

    Wait, what? All of the solutions I know of to encrypt hard drives at block or filesystem level are prety well implemented. You can't just brute force them. So either:

    • Someone at google left the password/phrase on a postit note next to the HDDs and/or it was '12345'
    • It wasn't 'encrypted' at all, but the Cyber Terror Response Center[1] thought it would sound awesome to say they broke it
    • The South Koreans are hiding the most advanced super computer in the world on some basement somewhere. Or some methematicians who can factor large primes in their sleep.

    [1] What the hell is up with these bullshit terror-inspiring names anyway? It sounds like a bunch of kids getting together on the playground and trying to think of the most kick-ass name for their dodgeball team.

    • by pspahn (1175617)

      methematicians who can factor large primes in their sleep.

      I'm curious to know if this was a typo or not.

      • by Graftweed (742763)

        I'm curious to know if this was a typo or not.

        It was, but now that you mention it, I wonder if any studies were ever conducted on meth as an aid to prime factoring. No? Well, how do they know, then?!

        • by Marcika (1003625)

          I'm curious to know if this was a typo or not.

          It was, but now that you mention it, I wonder if any studies were ever conducted on meth as an aid to prime factoring. No? Well, how do they know, then?!

          Well, anecdotally, Paul Erdös was on meth constantly for the last 25 years of his life - and he was the most prolific mathematician of all time... So I wonder how Gauss or Euler would have fared on amphetamines...

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      No need for super computer, mathematicians ect.
      A postit note, pen and a rather older person who looked about 20-30 yo in May 1980 in the basement can do wonders with locals ie
      please cooperate cryptanalysis.
    • by initialE (758110)

      You break the encryption on hard drives in the simplest manner, that is to say, break the person on the other side of it. Where's that xkcd reference when you need it...

  • Google uses encryption that can be broken? WTF?

  • theres no telling what all their spys gathered while driving around everyone's neighborhood...
  • "The country's Cyber Terror Response Center broke the encryption on hard drives" Wait, what? Either they didnt put a too big effort into encrypting, or they got some means of unencrypting which isnt very well known..
  • A large part of what you state is, for want of an elegant and non-insulting term to come to mind, bullshit.

    1) Slander is oral defamation. Libel is written defamation.

    2) Both apply only to persons. It is impossible to slander a nation or its government. It may be possible to slander corporations, due to connivance between governments and corporations whereby corporations are legislated to have many of the qualities and rights of a person. This is known as the "corporate shield," and is a powerful protect

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